Friday, March 30, 2012


Today I am traveling back to the US.

Due to visa related issues I am no longer able to live and work in Italy.

I am not sure what the future will hold - a feeling that is both exciting and scary.

Thank you for reading and following along with me on my adventures. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The View from Above

San Petronio church in Piazza Maggiore is currently under restoration which means that the whole front of it is covered in scaffolding. A bummer for people who come into the square expecting to see the majestic facade of the church only to be met with scaffolding and an ad for the newest VW car. The silver lining though is that the church has opened the scaffolding up to the public and for a mere 3 euros you can climb to the top and see tremendous, roof-top views of the city center!

Sunday was a clear, beautiful day and so we went up and the views are truly unique, I do no think there is another publicly accessible place in the city where such views are available, and fantastic. This is looking East across the city with the two towers on the left.

Palazzo del Podestà and people sitting out at the cafes enjoying the sun.

It was great to be able to clearly see some of the other towers around the city as well. At ground level it is easy to miss them as they blend in with the rest of the city.

Palazzo Comunale

We could even see San Luca on the hills just outside of the city.
One of my favorite parts about being able to see the city from that vantage point was being able to check out all of the roof top terraces and balconies. You cannot see too many in this picture but there were really some fantastic spots. It was fun to day dream about which one I would choose.

a panoramic view with Piazza Nettuno and the Fontana del Nettuno to the far left, the Palazzo del Podestà in the middle and the two towers to the far right 

Monday, March 5, 2012

In My Kitchen - Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

I love cooking and the kitchen is definitely my happy place. There is a certain rhythm to cooking that soothes me and provides comfort. There are the tasks that become rote not in a boring way but in a way that signals comfort and a reassuring predictability. This part of cooking is meditative and for a person like me, with a mind that feels as though it is almost always on overdrive, it is a welcome retreat. The other side of cooking is the creative. New recipes, new ingredients, new techniques. It is challenging and stretches my abilities and ideas. I love this artistic side. Most of the time I feel like a creative person without an outlet, I cannot paint or sing, but cooking provides me that space. In honor of my love of cooking, I would like to start a series on the blog called In My Kitchen where I can share recipes and cooking related experiences with you.

Today, I would like to share a recipe I have made twice now, which says a lot in itself as I do not tend to repeat recipes, and which has become an instantaneous favorite in our house.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread!

This bread is really delicious! The yogurt in the recipes ensures that the bread turns out moist and remains so even in the days after baking. My favorite part of the recipe is the genius, lemon syrup which you pour over the bread after it is done cooking. This infuses the bread with a bright, tangy lemon flavor.

Usually, on the weekends we head out to our favorite pasticcerie (bakeries) for breakfast so it says a lot that we happily stayed in and enjoyed this bread on both Saturday and Sunday.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread 
Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup of poppy seeds
Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix in the poppy seeds. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
When the bread is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the bread is still warm, make a series of holes in the top of the bread with a toothpick - this will give the liquid a place to go and it will help ensure the bread is evenly and completely saturated. Then pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the bread and allow it to soak in. Cool.